Miracle Players - Theatre in English in Rome
Miracle Players

Cleopatra's Review

by Stephanie L.

The Miracle Players at the Roman Forum

Cleopatra, the Miracle Player’s tribute to the queen of Egypt, takes the best of Plutarch, Shakespeare and Roman Holiday. No shy Audrey Hepburn, this Liz Taylor of a Cleopatra only feigns innocence abroad. This first liberated woman of the Roman empire has about as much use for Gregory Peck as she does for a distaff. 
Cleopatra, languishing in Egypt, persuades the ruler of the western world, Julius Caesar, to take her along to Rome. There she hopes to instill imperial yearnings in the reluctant Caesar while nursing an heir apparent only to her, Caesarion. Caesar, however, is determined to keep Rome a republic and spends long hours in the Senate, leaving Cleopatra free to tool around downtown Rome on the back of Marc Anthony’s Vespa. Smitten by his boyish charms, Cleo develops a full-blown crush on the rakish Anthony after the Ides of March. Undeterred by the paucity of his mental gifts, Cleopatra enlists herself as his chief of staff. Thankfully, she is there to salvage the famous funeral oration, which Antony bungles. Cleopatra shapes his “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech into a series of well-positioned sound bites – for without her assistance, it was rapidly devolving into a plea for the loan of a couple of brewskis. They repair to Egypt where they toss an inflatable globe beach ball on which they’ve redrawn the contours of the empire. In the power vacuum left in Rome, Octavian, Caesar’s adopted heir, watches impatiently as Antony gambles Rome’s fortune during his dalliance in Egypt. Tension bottlenecks in the Battle of Actium. This deftly choreographed bathtub battle of cardboard galleons is a storm in a teacup, complete with CNN coverage. The empire that Julius Caesar dreaded and Rome became grew out of the battle of wits between the Queen of the Nile and Octavian, the only man impervious to her considerable charms. Giulia Bernardi’s Cleopatra is not just a power hungry femme fatale, but one whose rosy-eyed illusion of empire includes hopes for free trade, cultural diversity, and enough harmony for her to write her beauty tips in peace. This brashly comical look at ancient Rome contains some not-so subtle critique of contemporary imperial policy for which the crumbling backdrop of the Arch of Severus provides an apt setting. Hurrah for the Miracle Players, who give us arch wit and wisdom in low-budget togas and Tevas!
Stephanie L. 


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